Yesterday’s Chili

It’s Fall – and when the weather turns cold and wet, I tend to cook a lot of things that simmer all day.  Most often this means beef stew or chili.

Saturday was a day of rest and football for me.  Work has been even more insane than usual lately with the launch of Modern Warfare 3, and my Oregon Ducks had a huge game at Stanford on national TV.  I decided to invite a bunch of friends to spend the day watching football at my house.  I told everyone to bring things that’d go well with chili.

My chili is a little different every time I make it.  It’s a combination of my mood, what’s in season, and what’s in the pantry.  The specific ingredients aren’t critical – you can substitute liberally and the end result is still likely to be yummy.

I went to Whole Foods Friday night on the way home from work and picked up a few things.  A 2-lb chuck roast, sweet yellow onions, a green pepper, anaheim & poblano peppers, garlic, and a few bombers of Stone’s latest limited release – Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale.  You’re also going to need a large (28-oz) can of diced tomatoes, a couple of cans of red kidney beans if you like beans with your chili (I do, and I buy the no-salt-added variety), and your favorite chili fixings like cheddar cheese and sour cream.

When I woke up Saturday morning I started the prep work.  When I’ve got time to spare I’d much rather do all the prep first, and then start the cooking process.  What follows is the process I used to make yesterday’s chili:
Chili prep

  • Turn on football and drink espresso.
  • Trim and cube the chuck roast into roughly 1-inch chunks.  Season liberally with salt and black pepper.
  • Dice two large sweet onions.
  • Dice one green pepper, two anaheim peppers, and one poblano pepper.
  • Mince an entire bulb of garlic.
  • Measure out roughly two teaspoons of chipotle chili powder, and one of cumin. (I can’t recommend World Spice enough as a source for great, fresh spices)
  • Open the Stone, and get out your best olive oil.
  • Pre-heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat.  I have an amazing 5.5 quart Le Crueset that was a gift a decade ago.  Lodge has some nice looking (and inexpensive) similar products that look worth a try.
  • Pour some olive oil in to the pot, and add the chuck.  You’re looking to get some nice color on the meat, but don’t overcook it.  It’ll get plenty more heat while simmering in the chili later.  This should take less then 10 minutes.  Remove the meat, drain the fat from the pot, and put it back on the stove to reheat.
  • While the chuck is on the stove, open the Stone and pour yourself a glass.
  • Pour a liberal amount of olive oil into the once-again hot pan, and add the onion.
  • Cook the onion by itself for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When it smells great and is starting to soften add the pepper mix.
  • Keep stirring occasionally for another 10 minutes or so.
  • Throw 5-10 oz of sun-dried tomatoes into the food processor with some olive oil, and pulse until it’s almost a paste.  Add to the mix.
  • Add the garlic and stir for a couple more minutes.
  • Add the cumin and chili powder.  Stir every 30 seconds for 2-3 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with between one and two cups of Stone.  The 11.11.11 is made with chili and cinnamon which makes it perfect for chili.  Let it go for a minute or two, stirring to make sure you get all the goodness off the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the meat back to the pot.
  • Add the tomatoes.
  • Add about a cup of water.
  • Cover and simmer for a few hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so.  If the chili gets too thick add another cup of water along the way.
  • Have good friends arrive with more beer, corn bread, cookies, and other excellent things.
  • Watch football.
  • Drink beer.
  • If you’re going to add beans, add them an hour or so before you’re going to serve the chili so they have plenty of time to warm up.
  • Achievement Unlocked: Made Amazing Chili!  The longer it simmers, the better it’ll taste.  It’ll even taste better after a night in the fridge, so you might want to make double batch so you’ll have leftovers.

This particular batch of chili had amazing flavor, but was lacking a little in heat.  If you’re a spice fan I’d suggest roughly this recipe, but add a small can of pureed chipotles to the other peppers.

FINAL: Oregon 53, Stanford 30. GO DUCKS!